In May, more than 300 attendees gathered at the picturesque Pine Mountain State Park Lodge for a Federal Partners Convening and Forum hosted by the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.
Attendees included local government, nonprofits, and community partners working in the Appalachian Kentucky counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, Whitley, and adjacent areas where recent historic flooding destroyed many homes. The event’s participation of federal partners brought the opportunity to build collaboration, capacity, and relationships by connecting the Community Network with targeted federal and civic partners
The event also introduced the East Kentucky Housing Challenge, which is a new signature project assigned to the Rural Partners Network. The Network, which includes HUD, is a White House Initiative led by the USDA-Rural Development. However, HUD will take the lead for this signature project, as well as two other projects kicking off in Western Kentucky and Georgia.
HUD’s Office of Rural Housing and Economic Development led by Deputy Assistant Secretary Robin Keegan and her staff will work with HUD’s Louisville team to address the immediate rural housing needs, which center on capacity building, infrastructure development, gap funding, and sustainable/energy efficient housing.
David Railey, a Senior Management Analyst from HUD’s Office of Field Policy and Management addressed the audience to share how the team will provide a customized approach that includes detailed action plans, technical assistance and resources such as HUD’s Self Help Ownership program. “We’re committed to help rebuild, repair and even create new communities, so that families who were living here can return and continue to call this place home,” said Railey.
East Kentucky Housing Challenge participating agencies include Department of Transportation, Veterans Administration, Department of Labor, Department of Energy, Small Business Administration, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Social Security Administration, FDIC, HUD, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Interagency Working Group for Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.